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Always Appreciating What's Good...

September 2014

Company of Experts Consulting Services


So often we see stories of change, and the writers will often describe the courage of the people in the story. What do we really mean when we talk about courage? What visions appear in your head when you see the word COURAGE?


The dictionary describes courage as "the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous." The root of the word courage is cor - latin word for heart. Some have said courage takes "strength of heart".   How do we describe courage in our Appreciative Inquiry World?


A quick search of Appreciative Inquiry and courage found several possible. I think this one written by David Cooperrider is vibrant with life and energy:


The people of Cleveland are mobilizing around a compelling vision to transform their communities into a flourishing city. They have the courage to dream a magnanimous vision for their city in the face of tremendous challenges.... (learn more)

Often people, new to Appreciative Inquiry ask "How do we introduce Appreciative Inquiry?" "How do you handle the negatives?" "How do I convince others?"


What role does courage play in taking that first step? As inspiring as the stories are of those who display courage in large inquiries, AND their courage is open, transparent and deeply connected to each other. These instances of courage are a reflection of their daily experiences of the life, work, and love. Everyone has the skill, and capacity to be courageous.


I interviewed a teacher's assistance about her experience with a large inquiry (as a Core Team Member). At the beginning or our project, she had doubts about her ability to take on such a role. She thought she would not measure up and she was fearful. Yet, she knew the inquiry was important, and of great value to the students and community. "I did not know that about myself", she told me after the inquiry "I am looked at as a leader now."


Leaders, facilitators, Core Team Members and inquiry Stakeholders are courageous. They are inspirations of possibility.


"Courage is found in unlikely places." ~ J.R.R. Tolkien



Kathy Becker,  

President of Company of Experts, Inc. 

Welcome to the AI Community!

Company of Experts is pleased to introduce its newest Certified Appreciative Inquiry Facilitators and/or Coaches to its growing AI family. 

The individual(s) listed below participated in our 4-day Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) and/or our 5 day Appreciative Inquiry Coaching Training (AICT)

  program and submitted a practicum demonstrating their knowledge and application of Appreciative Inquiry. In reading their practicums, we are able to celebrate in their achievements and observe how Appreciative Inquiry has positively influenced their lives - personally and professionally.


  • Philip Major, "An Appreciative Inquiry into What Makes Ministry Teams Joyful"
  • Nancy Bronder, "We Embrace Our Centered Vulnerability as a Way to Increase Our Connection with People, Including Ourselves"
New practicums are frequently posted to our blog, so check back often to see what new stories have been posted. Click here for more practicums. 
Be a Positive Deviant: SOAR, Don't SWOT

In most large companies, September* is when business plans and budgets for the upcoming year are set. Unfortunately, the whole business planning process is anything but forwarding looking and inspiring. We dust off last year's plan, maybe bring our team together to tweak it, and then present it to upper management where they pick it apart. There is another way. SOAR, don't SWOT.


Take a strengths-based approach to develop your strategy or plan by breaking from the traditional SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) and SOAR instead (strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results).


Let's face it, in a SWOT analysis, weaknesses are typically the flip side of strengths and threats are usually the flip side of opportunities. Engage your team members in a more positive and empowering discussion about what they aspire their department or business to be and the kinds of results they seek. Read Full Article>> 

Root Cause Analysis of Success

One of the Lean tools that is used to determine the root cause of a problem is the Fishbone Diagram, also known as the Cause and Effect Diagram or Ishikawa Diagram. It identifies and explores on a single chart the 5 - Why technique, The aim is to work down through the causes to identify basic root causes of a problem by asking the question why, 5 times.

It appears very simple but the results are outstanding. As a result, it is used very often and one that should be mastered. Why would you use it?

  • Allows various categories of causes to be explored. 
  • Encourages creativity through a brainstorming process.
  • Provides a visual image of the problem and potential categories of causes.
  • Analyze Complex problems that seem to have many interrelated causes.

The basic layout for manufacturing consists of six categories: Materials, Machine, Measurement, Methods, Manpower and Milieu (Environment). The basic layout for administrative processes consists of four categories: Personnel, Plant Facilities, Policies and Procedures.

This classic method is a powerful tool in problem solving methodology. However, can it be equally powerful for creating an analysis of strengths or successes. In the book, Appreciative Leadership , the authors use the Fishbone diagram, depicted below to illustrate the positive core or a group or team. Read Full Article>> 

Destiny in Appreciative Coaching: Appreciative Process as Action Planning

Destiny can be the hardest phase in Appreciative Inquiry to understand, but why? AI Coach & Trainer Luke Younge shares his thoughts


I'd like to write a little about Destiny/Delivery - the last phase in the 5 D model of Appreciative Inquiry - because it's the phase that's taken me longest to understand. And it appears I'm not alone.


What makes this phase different to the others in the process? Up till this point we have been moving through a familiar pathway - we have defined a topic to inquire into, we have conducted a discovery into best experiences and we have created a dream, which has now been refined into a provocative proposition or possibility statement. All through this we have carefully put aside our knee jerk problem-solving habits and learnt to trust that locating sources of energy and life will be more than enough to deal with the problem we may have.


The pinnacle we have reached in this high-energy process is the possibility statement - we have finally captured in words a future that both inspires us and is rooted in the best experiences of the past. We are connected to our positive core and, driven by that energy, we can imagine a future that inspires us and calls us to action. Read Full Article>>  

The Future of Work is Social - Relationships are the Core

"The power of an organization is the capacity generated by relationships. Positive or negative organizational energy is determined by the quality of relationships." Margaret Wheatley, Leadership from the New Science


ME or I centered workplaces are still the norm. They are characterized by cultures that tend to be high on fear and low on trust. People in ME workplaces don't feel or believe they can speak honestly and contribute ideas and opinions freely. Many organizations "speak team" but too many team members still operate as lone wolves.


In ME based workplaces, employees feel they have to protect turf, leaders are perceived as ineffectual or autocratic and self-protection is the dominant feeling. Anxiety, frustration and resentment are the common emotions found in ME-centered workplaces.


How did we get here? Despite decades of discussions and program implementation of leadership and team building, the consensus is that most workplaces are still not healthy, vibrant relationship building systems.


We really can't blame most employees for working this way. We've all been conditioned through decades of the "legacy" of top - down, command and control thinking and management. Fear is the dominant emotional driver in too many workplaces. Many organizations still don't understand and factor in the human equation in terms of policies and practices. Communication and emotional intelligence are still relegated to the territory of "soft skills" and are often not considered as essential job requirements. Read Full Article>> 

8 Assumptions of Appreciative Inquiry
"The major assumption of Appreciative Inquiry is that in every organization something works and change can be managed through the identification of what works, and the analysis of how to do more of what works."  - Sue Annis Hammond in The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry


1. "In every society, organization, or group something works."

So often people live in a problem. They identify problems, have meeting to focus on a problem and look for solutions to a problem. That is a lot of negativity. Appreciative Inquiry does not ignore the presence of a problem, but it does not dwell in the land of problems. Appreciative Inquiry lives among that which is right and the existing strengths and asks the question, "What is already working?" Even if that which is working is not maximizing its potential, the direction of focus is on what is right.


2. "What we focus on becomes our reality."

When we dwell on problems, and even solutions to problems, our reality is a problem. We get out of a problem by discovering strengths It is amazing how looking for problems almost always blinds us from amplifying strengths. Read Full Article>>  

New Thought Leadership on Building Enterprises For Meaningful Contribution

Sharing resources on dialogic organization development, inside out social innovation and reinventing organizations  


Three resources released in 2014 offer insight on building enterprises that contribute to society in a way that is meaningful to all stakeholders, including the enterprise. Though not necessarily geared to social enterprises, the thought leadership offered in these publications certainly applies to them as well. Each resource includes tangible take-aways.

1. Dialogic Organization Development

In order to make a meaningful contribution through an organization, people must make personal, voluntary commitments to new behaviours and projects. That's essentially the premise of this article by Gervase Bushe and Robert J. Marshak.

The article includes both the theory behind this premise as well as practices that enable this to happen.

A nugget quote from the article: "Change results from 'changing the conversations' that shape everyday thinking and behaviour through involving more and different voices, altering how and which people talk to each other, and/or by stimulating alternative or generative images, to shape how people think about things.".
Read Full Article>> 
Maybe the Question is the Answer?
I recently received an email from an associate saying how thrilled she was to be part of a group that supports difficult conversations. It was significant to me because it was an acknowledgement of an organizational culture that embraces questions.


Unlike some organizations where questions are seen as complaints or as being disruptive or disrespectful, I like to think that here at the Campus for Communities of the Future we have created a culture that reflects an understanding that asking the right question is often the answer.


Without a culture that encourages questions, it's virtually impossible to achieve results of any significance because being inquisitive and challenging the status quo is inherent to long-term success. We need to ask questions of others, as well as ourselves, because it is the questioning that produces leading edge thinking and innovation. Along the way those questions create clarity, help us to think critically, challenge our assumptions, and inspire us to see things through a fresh lens.


Perhaps organizations, businesses, and communities lose their ability to achieve success because we tell people to stop asking so many questions. This thinking has been reinforced by an educational system that, for the most part, rewards us for having the answer, not for having good questions.Read Full Article>> 

4 Secrets of Happiness World Leaders Can Learn From the Happiness Mindset

World events, such as the atrocities in Iraq, Syria, Israel, Palestine and other war-zone countries, can leave generations of communities scarred for life with any hope for a better life removed. Watching heart-breaking events unfold in the media, I wanted to offer a solution to world leaders for a better way to create happier communities and prevent conflicts from occurring in the first place. The following tools are key to building happier communities and environments globally:


1. Collaboration as a conflict prevention tool

The Happiness Mindset, discusses the need for 'collaboration' in any negotiation, including ones where conflict is involved. Collaboration, is an approach used to reach a mutually positive outcome for both parties, a 'win-win' solution.  This is different to the other 4 negotiation styles: competition, compromise, avoidance and accommodation. The first of the four, competition is when we impose our views on the other party and they are left with no choice but to accept this position. Whilst this may lead to a good outcome for us, it leaves a bitter taste in the other person's mouth and can lead to resentment in the long-term. This is a short term strategy that is negative for relationship building and can hinder future negotiations.


Compromise is a 'lose-lose' strategy. When we accept compromise, both parties give up something.  This can result in disappointment and negativity. Read Full Article>>   

Change Management Requires Leadership Clarity and Alignment
Change Management Requires Leadership Clarity & Alignment (I like the identifying opportunity graphic).


Change management is in full-force across all industries, yet many leaders are unprepared to act upon and operationalize the requirements for change to avoid business disruption. For many organizations, preparedness begins at the top and this means that leadership - across all levels - must have absolute clarity in purpose and focus; there also must be alignment in strategic philosophy and resolution goals.


Unfortunately, many organizations are slow to change as the internal politics makes it difficult to reach consensus across all levels of leadership - even when the necessity for change is urgent. This is why many companies unknowingly lose momentum as they fail to change fast enough - allowing the marketplace and competitors to pass them by.  The result: valuable time is misspent, resources applied and money invested without the required outcomes to stay competitive, keep clients satisfied and employees engaged. Read Full Article>> 

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We are happy to announce the release of our Expert on Call Directory. Our directory is a global network of people with outstanding expertise in Coaching, Consulting, Facilitating, Keynoting, and Training. This network serves the needs of the community colleges, schools and universities, businesses and corporations, governmental agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

Each Expert on Call has an editable profile page that includes your photo and professional biography that highlights your specialties, articles, videos and testimonials. As an Expert on Call, your profile will be added to our Directory - making you and your company searchable by our worldwide audience.

Experts on Call also enjoy several other benefits, such as: free event postings, being a featured Expert in our "Ask the Expert" or "#AskEoC" programs, publish your articles, add your products to our store and more. To see a full list of benefits, please click here
Time is Running Out - Save Big on our 2014 Appreciative Inquiry Trainings
Since 1989, Company of Experts has developed an excellent word-of-mouth reputation by helping hundreds of organizations and groups, and thousands of individuals, heighten their energy, sharpen their vision, and inspire their action for change.


To celebrate 25 years, we are offering an additional $250.00 savings on all 2014 Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Trainings (AIFT) being hosted in Las Vegas! Register early and combine your $250.00 savings on top of our Early Bird Registration Discount. Please enter promo code: THEBIG25 upon checkout to receive our 25 year celebratory discount. Discount cannot be combines with group rates or other offers. 

Free Payment Plan Program

Payment Plan Program is now available for ALL of our workshops!


Company of Experts, Inc. is pleased to offer a Payment Plan Program as a manageable alternative to paying your workshop registration in a lump-sum payment. Our Payment Plan Program allows you to pay your workshop registration over a number of weeks/months, interest free.


Enrollment in our free Payment Plan Program will reserve your seat(s) in the training of your choice. Your reserved seat(s) permit you to receive all the benefits of registered participants, such as access to any pre-workshop readings, materials and activities.  Learn More>>  

Become a Host for our Trainings
We offer incentives to hosting organizations for their hospitality

Company of Experts is seeking host organizations throughout the world to host any of our trainings (Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT), Department Chair Institute (DCI), and Leadership Development Institute(LDI)). To show our gratitude, host organizations receive two complimentary registrations for a training held on their site when minimum enrollment is met.
Host organizations may limit the training to people at their organization or it can be open to others. If the training is open, Company of Experts partner with the host organization to help promote the training.  
Please contact Kathy for more information.

In This Issue
Welcome to the AI Community!
Be a Positive Deviant: SOAR, Don't SWOT
Root Cause Analysis of Success
Destiny in Appreciative Coaching: Appreciative Process as Action Planning
The Future of Work is Social - Relationships are the Core
7 Assumptions of Appreciative Inquiry
New Thought Leadership on Building Enterprises for Meaningful Contribution
Maybe the Question is the Answer?
4 Secrets of Happiness World Leaders Can Learn From the Happiness Mindset
Change Management Requires Leadership Clarity and Alignment
Join our EOC Community - Free for 90 Days
Time is Running Out - Save Big on our 2014 Appreciative Inquiry Trainings
New Payment Plan Program
Hosting Opportunities
Free Downloads
Upcoming Events
Online Videos Worth Watching
LinkedIn Conversations
Webinar Recordings Available
Visit Our Websites
Free Downloads:
Leadership Excellence (March 2012) - Highlighting Appreciative Inquiry
By: Various Authors 

The Neuroscience of Leadership
By: David Rock & Jeffrey Schwartz

Aligning Strengths Through Appreciative Inquiry
By: Nancy Stetson

Managing with the Brain in Mind
By: David Rock
Upcoming Events:
Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) 
Where: Chicago, Illinois   
Dates: October 24-26, 2014 

Appreciative Inquiry Coaching Training (AICT) 
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada  
Dates: November 3-7, 2014   

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) 
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada  
Dates: November 12-15, 2014  
View Event Page >> 

Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry: Creating What Will Be
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada  
Dates: December 4-5, 2014 

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) 
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada  
Dates: February 10-13, 2015   

Appreciative Inquiry Coaching Training (AICT) 
Where: Cape Town, South Africa   
Dates: March 16-20, 2015    
View Company of Experts' Entire Event Calendar
here >>
Recent Tweets

Our Facilitator Training is heading to Europe, March 24-27, 2015 - get certified today     


How Appreciative Inquiry can help the human family. A video interview with David Cooperrider.

How will the evolution of the employee change how we work & collaborate together?  

What makes questions so powerful?


Ozone Hole Closing Up Thanks to Global Action - amazing things happen when we use positive dialogue...  

Videos Worth Watching

Playful Inquiry - Try This Anywhere  

Description: Robyn Stratton-Berkessel demonstrates how a simple, positive question can change your world.


Every Child a Talker - Appreciative Inquiry at Work  

Description: Robbie Macpherson shares a story about infusing AI into his work. 


Whole Systems Healing - Interview with Diana Whitney  

Description: An interview with Diana Whitney about Whole Systems Healing and Appreciative Inquiry.


Appreciative Inquiry in the Working Place 

Description: Prof. John Hayes discusses Appreciative Inquiry and its use in the workplace.  


Every Kid Needs a Champion 

Description: A call to educators to believe in their students' potential. 


Description: In this fast-moving & entertaining talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that actually happiness inspires productivity
LinkedIn Conversations:
Is "Why" an Appreciative Question?
A few days ago I posted an HBR article titled, "Become a Company That Questions Everything". The article talks about how companies should encourage curiosity in the workforce by inviting employees and other stakeholders to ask questions. The article itself has a large graphic of the word "why". As I shared the article, one person asked me if "why" is an appreciative question. I believe it can be, depending on the context in which it is used. What do you think?

As AI practitioners we spend a lot of time helping others discover their positive core (i.e. their strengths, best practices, positive attitudes, knowledge, skills, capabilities, etc.), but we don't always get the opportunity to discover our discuss our own. I'm curious to know how you discovered your own positive core and what you'd say is one of your greatest strengths.

How Do You Deal with Resistance?
Have any of you gone into an organization who resisted using AI? If so, how did you overcome the resistance? Also, I am curious how you were able to get your foot in the door to discuss the benefits of using AI.


We invite you to join our LinkedIn Group called "Discovering Appreciative Inquiry". It is an open group that allows participants to ask questions and share stories in regards to AI. All are welcome!

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To view a list of our webinar recordings, please click here.   

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